5 Ways to Promote Social Responsibility in Your Business
Now more than ever, customers and employees are looking to companies for social responsibility. The days of surface level commitment are gone, and businesses and leaders are being held to a higher standard. So, being socially responsible is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.
Before we dive into the 5 action items, let’s take a quick moment to define the meaning of this new buzzword. At the core, social responsibility is a reflection of what impact the business is having on the world around it. This can be environmentally, socially, and economically. Our businesses touch the society around us in a variety of ways. Taking a step back to reevaluate your role in society allows for the chance to take actions of significance. Although that in itself holds great importance, so does the accountability businesses and leaders are being held to. With movements like Greenpeace, Fashion Revolution, and Fair-trade act of 2001, people are demanding more from businesses, expanding beyond the 9-5 and into everyday life.
The benefits of being a socially responsible company go beyond the obvious benefit to society, it also boosts company morale, increases internal comradery, and makes you a desired place to work. Now, let’s get to it. 5 ways you can become more socially responsible.
- VOLUNTEER DAYS: These are days in which employees are paid per usual, but the day is dedicated to an organization or nonprofit as a form of giving back to the community. Your time could be given at a food shelf, animal shelter, nursing home, or even a youth center where your employees give back by sharing their skills and knowledge with the next generation.
The frequency of volunteer days is up to you, but we have found it works best to be consistent. So if it is once a month or once a quarter, giving employees something to plan for and look forward to will yield positive results.
To ease logistics some organizations even come set up at your facility. Nonprofits like FMSC have created “mobile pack events”, which allows for your team to create food packets that will be sent to malnourished people groups around the world with little to no set up work from you. You provide the space and the volunteers and they take care of the rest.
- ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT: Evaluating your carbon footprint and implementing environmentally friendly daily practices shows great social responsibility. This could be switching to more fuel efficient delivery vehicles, starting a new recycling policy, or switching to solar energy.
Possibly your business is not ready to make a huge leap. We understand. In that case, start with something simple like a new recycling policy, or a paperless office. New Belgium Brewing in Colorado offers incentives for their employees to ride bikes to work, decreasing their carbon footprint. Start small and grow from there. Even seemingly small things can create huge impact.
- ETHICAL SUPPLY CHAIN: Being a socially conscious business means that you are not only responsible for maintaining standards inside your company but you also must be aware of the ethical standards of those you source from. Having an ethical supply chain means doing the extra work to be sure your suppliers are free of forced labor and are paying their workers a fair living wage. This also means checking to be sure they are adhering to environmental standards and provide transparency to prove it. An important item to note is that if concerns are found in your investigation of the supplier it is not always recommended that you immediately end your relationship with this company. Many suppliers are struggling to make ends meet in developing countries and simply cutting them off is not going to solve the ethical issue. Rather, best case scenario would be to work directly with the supplier on efforts towards closing the gaps that are a concern. This will help them to keep their employees who are in need of a job, and also allow them to become a sustainable business by having standards which they can show off to future partnerships, increasing their capacity and also your social responsibility.
- MAKE A DIRECT CONTRIBUTION: Arguably this may be the most time saving yet effective way to impact the world around you. Nonprofits around the world survive off of donor money. They can not accomplish what needs to be done to create social change without the funds to hire the right people, rent an office space, even create a website, without the resources to make it happen. As someone coming from the nonprofit world, I can promise you that your direct contribution of resources can make a huge impact. And, I am not jut talking about making a tax deductible donation (although those are always welcomed). Care Portal, a nonprofit out of Kansas City, has developed an online platform that connects individuals and businesses who have resources to those who need them. Donating items like beds, cribs, and car seats provides resources to stabilize the environment of children and their caregivers both in birth families and foster care. That means the very thing your child may have just grown out of, could make a world of difference for the child down the street.
FUEL YOUR PASSION. The truth is, we more passionate we feel about a particulate topic or people group, the more likely we are to continue pouring into it. Invite your team into the process. Create fun meetings around how you will give back and ways that the entire company can take an active role in increasing social responsibility. Set goals, and communicate frequently on your progress to achieving those goals. This strategy will create momentum that will go beyond a fun Friday and create a way of doing business that everyone an take part in and be excited about.
Being socially responsible can feel overwhelming, but we encourage you to start small. Do something that works for you. In fact, reading this article was the first step in the right direction. We already know you are going to do something amazing and we can’t wait for the world to be changed for the better because of you!